Recently, Daniel Newman provided a challenge to the Social Beards group:
“Choose a 4 hour period when you’re typically connected to the internet and then completely disconnect. Then write a short blog post and record a video snippet on your experience”
My wife is always trying to get me to unplug in the evenings, so it’s funny that it took a challenge from social friends to unplug. Lately I’ve been really focused on building my personal brand on Twitter and ramping up my engagement with people in the industry. It’s been paying off, but as a result I’ve been quite distracted at home in the evenings.
I’m often sneaking out of the room to check Twitter, or I would be on my phone during the bedtime routine with my kids. The other night my daughter said, “put your phone away daddy!” Which was a real wake up call that I needed to make some changes. Not my proudest moment.
Time to Disconnect
After I unplugged for the first hour, I initially felt the urge to grab my phone and check my notifications. I run a high-end yo-yo company from home, and there is always this expectation to reply back to people on social as soon as possible. I was also waiting on some feedback for a blog post I wrote. I eventually settled down and was able to be in the moment at home.
I helped my daughter clean up her room, I was present while I played with her during her bath. I showed my son some yo-yo tricks, and made up a new one in the process.
Once the kids went to sleep I found time to read an actual book I’ve been meaning to finish, instead of my Twitter feed or emails.
Then my wife asked me to drive out to IKEA to pick up some blinds. I had a flat tire in the morning that I filled back up, so the idea of driving 30min to IKEA while being unplugged kind of scared me. The tire was still holding air, so I took the chance and just left my phone at home. I’m sure a good samaritan would stop if anything were to happen. I really missed my phone while walking down the aisles at IKEA. I wanted to Snapchat and Instagram where I was and what I was doing.
I noticed that one thing that I have been doing lately is that I’ll sit in the car once I get home to check my social feeds for new notifications. This usually adds on an extra 5-10 minutes to my trip, which I’m sure has been frustrating for my wife if the kids are being difficult.
I usually Meerkat my walk with my dog in the evening, but not this time. I wished I was streaming my walk when we ran into a car full of teens that pulled over so one of their buddies could hop out and pee in the bush. But unfortunately, it was just me and my dog that got to have the chuckle about it.
Once I got back from the walk, instead of hopping on my phone, my wife and I played a game of Boggle. She absolutely destroyed me, but it was fun to spend some time together reconnecting during a point in our lives where we’re either too exhausted from the kids to do anything or I’m busy working.
What I Learned
Through this experience I learned that I really need to start unplugging in the evening. The bedtime routine with my kids is their special time with their dad and I need to be present for them. They’re at an age where the simplest things can influence them and it’s my job to be there for them.
I already knew that I was an oversharer, but what I found interesting was how the urge to share would come over me, and how weird it felt when I wasn’t able to do anything about it. It’s fun to share my experiences with others, especially when they are able to enjoy them just as much as I did.
Being on social has become a big part of my daily routine and is more than a job it’s a lifestyle for me now. It’s how I make a living, learn new skills, stay up to date with my community, connect with friends, and create new relationships. This experience has taught me that I need to remember to take more breaks and disconnect, because right now my family needs me the most.
My Experience Overview [30 second video]:
Read more posts in this series:
My Digital Disconnect: Unplug to See The Light by Ben Phillips